Thursday, December 30, 2004

Possible new Mersenne Prime found?

Some guy posted with an Italian email address asking what he should do about his copy of Prime95 beeping and flashing at him. This is something that Prime95 will do if it finds an exponent "p" that passes the Lucas-Lehmer test (indicating that 2^p-1 is prime).

George hasn't heard from him since that posting, so it very well could be a prank or a known bug with small exponents. It would probably be easy enough for George to check which exponent was assigned to his client (since he has already matched the email address to a PrimeNet user), and start the verification process on that exponent.

The last Mersenne prime was discovered in May 2004, and the one before that in November of 2003. These numbers have no practical use, other than perhaps for random number generators. The ones being found today are millions of digits long.